I wanted to return to this one, because I think it highlights a major misconception.
There is no such thing as "free". Google traffic always comes at a price. Billions of dollars have been poured into attaining "free" Google traffic. Entire industries have come and gone around the idea of "free" Google traffic.
Even you, signor_john, have committed significant resources into obtaining "free" Google traffic.
Even the content that Google offers to its visitors for "free" comes at a cost, but that cost is largely born by publishers - to the profit of Google.
As much as I depend on Google I also recognize that it has largely become a parasite. Everytime I read the all too common admonitions that people NOT let their online presence become too dependent on Google I say to myself, "yeah, right." Only of the sites I am responsible for has a majority of traffic from non-Google referrals.
If you are making money of the Internet, Google is finding a way to get their share.